Optimism is certainly flowing in Philadelphia as the NFL draft nears. This will be the first draft that the Eagles have had without longtime head coach Andy Reid inside the draft room since 1999. With newly acquired offensive guru Chip Kelly running the show in Philadelphia the Eagles are currently holding the fourth overall pick in the draft this year. Fans are eagerly anticipating and counting down the days like a child does at Christmas. With the eagles ranking twenty-fourth in overall defense last year it would come as no surprise that a defensive player may be the star of the Eagles draft.
This star in particular comes by way of the 6’3’’ 320 lb. defensive tackle Star Lotulelei from the University of Utah. Lotulelei who had 42 tackles with 5 sacks along with 11 tackles for losses last year dominated on the defensive side of the ball for the Utes. While he did have a health scare at the NFL combine, he has since passed at least ten tests and two cardiac MRI’s. Lotulelei made up for his absence at the combine with a very impressive pro day where he recorded 38 bench press reps, completed the three cone drill in 7.66 seconds, and completed the 20 yard shuttle in 4.65 seconds. If Lotulelei is drafted by the Eagles his versatility can put him at defensive tackle or as a hybrid defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. He can shut down running lanes and rush quarterbacks. This would definitely become a valuable asset for the Eagles secondary who ranked number nine in the league last year but will be without playmaking cornerbacks Namdi Asomugah and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie in the upcoming 2013 season.
The Eagle’s second round pick can come in the form of a quarterback. While Michael Vick struggled with injuries last year and Nick Foles proved not to be the backup solution or a successful starter last season in Philadelphia. There is a strong possibility that the Eagles can take E.J Manuel with the thirty-fifth selection in the draft. Manuel fits the offensive system that Kelly ran when he lead Oregon to a national championship in 2011 with dual threat quarterback Dennis Dixon at the helm. Manuel and Vick also share a hometown connection with both quarterbacks hailing from the old dominion state. With an older and more experienced Vick he can mentor and help develop a young Manuel to dominate at the next level. Manuel excelled at the combine running his 40 yard dash in 4.65 seconds, a vertical jump of 34’’, broad jump of 118’’ as well as a 4.21 in the 20 yard shuttle. Manuel led Florida State to a 12-2 record and earned them a trip to the Orange Bowl with 3392 yards passing and 23 touchdowns last year.
With Philadelphia in a rare situation this off season with a very high draft pick and a new head coach all eyes are on the coaching squad and the executives to make the right decision. Could we get the same reaction that Donavan McNabb and Andy Reid received; jeers that later turned to cheers or will we get cheers that will turn to jeers. Whatever decision that is made both Kelly and his first round pick will be remembered by Philadelphia fans for years to come.
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